I anticipated that with friends staying for a visit I wouldn’t be very productive. I didn’t anticipate that the whole week would be lost in a black hole of time suck for all kinds of reasons–including driving all over creation in the midst of seriously insane fellow road warriors. It seems odd to me that in one trip I had both a 16-wheeler and a Mack truck try to run me over, and in another, two SUVs, one of which was tailgating the other, conspired to force me onto the shoulder rather than make room for me to merge after my lane abruptly ended.
Living in such a populous place makes for road crazy. It’s an exhaustion factor all by itself.
This week I’ll be driving all over creation again: Twice to my company’s headquarters in Maryland in one week. I’m hoping last week’s experiences have given me at least something like a temporary immunity to the vehicular madness.
On the other hand, since my visitors were also bookworms, I’ve been on a reading kick. Last night I stayed up until the wee hours to finish the latest Mercy Thompson installment, even after I realized several chapters in that (oh! The horror!) I had missed buying (and reading) book 8 in the series. It’s now in my shopping cart at Amazon waiting for me to remember enough other things we need to qualify the order for free shipping. I suppose that spoils some of the action for me from book 8, but, honestly, I’m just happy to spend more time with an unusual character who recognizes her fears but acts (with increasing discretion and forethought) in support of her friends and family anyway. She’s strong, not super-human, and gifted with a sense of loyalty and priorities that make me wish she were real so I could meet her and become her friend, too.
Interestingly, with all those virtues, and as much as I’ve enjoyed watching her gain faith in her core self, a quick Google search reveals that she’s been critiqued as being a Mary Sue. For a character who consistently takes action on her own, without backup or a plan, and chafes against people (especially men who try to mansplain her incapacity to do things) forcing her to abide by their rules and restrictions, this is a silly claim. And yet this week, too, Gayla reported one of her Discord Jones books had been tarred with the same judgment. In a separate conversation, then, I found the 2011 two-post set from Zoe Marriott about her run-in with the term and its inherent sexism. The bottom line in all this: Apparently female characters are expected never to act without a man’s guidance–and when they do, they get tagged as “unrealistic,” “wish-fulfilling,” and similar adjectives that indicate our society’s fictional expectations haven’t caught up to what we profess in terms of gender equality.
I fully expect my characters will eventually find the same critique. Several have wounds that limit their ability to trust, and they’ve found that the only way to find inner peace is by accepting responsibility for actions they choose of their own volition.
While I anticipate this reaction, it makes me sad. And more determined than ever to write the stories that need to be told from the perspective of a woman who’s fought challenges that break some people. Women characters can and should have the same learning curve as women themselves. The hero’s journey is not restricted to men.
But not this past week, when I needed time to retreat into other people’s fiction from the busy-ness that comes with guests and plans and work deadlines.
The good news is that we’ve slowly started up the walking train again. I averaged 1,430 steps per day, and today we took our first 1.3-mile walk in quite a while. I’m embarrassingly out of shape. Though… KouKi was also ridiculously excited to be on a family walk again and did resistance training with me the whole distance.
So I’ll be coaxing my good habits back to the fore with Hubs’ help this week, including returning to my recently neglected WIPs. We’ll see how much progress I make, but in the meantime, check out my ROW80 cohorts to see how they’re progressing.